People Are Strange

One of the few facts I knew about my father as a young boy was his adoration of The Doors music. Wikipedia didn’t exist back then, and I was too young to know Jim Morrison was a controversial figure who was the first rock artist to be arrested while performing onstage, among other dicey antics.

As newlyweds, my father even convinced my mother accompany him to a concert when the Doors toured through Utah. The thought of Jim Morrison performing in Utah still makes me smile. To this day, I’m not convinced my mother has forgiven my father for buying those tickets.

the doors

Yet, I never really embraced the Doors. Their music felt distant and Morrison’s voice didn’t connect with me. Even the organ reminded me of church, which was painfully boring to a boy wearing a clip-on tie and attempting to remain awake during the three hour service. It wasn’t until years later when I watched Apocalypse Now and heard The End that I began to understand the mystery of the Doors.

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

My mother couldn’t stand the Doors and especially Jim Morrison. When I began listening to rock music in my teens, I’d often use a comparison to them when my mother would express displeasure in my choice of bands. For example, “Hey, at least David Lee Roth didn’t expose himself onstage”. No matter how raunchy my music was, it was never worse than what the Doors performed.

It was the early 80’s and groups like Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Rush were popular. MTV was all the rage and we had it before many of my friends. Girls were still too scary to approach so we’d spend Friday nights in front of my parents 19-inch Magnavox watching music videos. I even began to like Big Log by Robert Plant after the twentieth viewing. I swear MTV played Big Log every sixth video.

The only solo effort from Plant I still enjoy is In the Mood and then not even the entire song. The first minute of the song rocks because Plant doesn’t sing, and the last minute rocks because Plant makes up incomprehensible lyrics. But that didn’t stop me from singing along. I’m still surprised my mom didn’t ask me to explain the title of the song. Or ask why Plant swims in his boxer shorts.

It wasn’t long before I sat in the locker room after a baseball game and one of my teammates played Pink Floyd’s, The Wall. I heard Comfortably Numb and was hooked. He let me borrow The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon and I’d found my favorite band that still stands today.

Most of my friends thought Pink Floyd was too strange. That made me like them even more. I was listening to Mother while they listened to Billy Jean. There were a few older boys who loved Floyd, and when I discovered them, was invited into their unofficial Floyd Fan Club. We sat around listening to their albums trying to decipher the lyrics. We probably should have started with Comfortably Numb.

Those are fond memories. I’m glad my parents let me discover my own musical tastes minus the heavy handed tactics. One of my friends purchased the Business as Usual  album by Men at Work only to have his father toss it in the fire before he could play it. I’m not kidding. The guys who gave us the vegemite sandwich fed the flames.

His next album, REO Speedwagon, was safe at our house. Imagine if he’d brought home Motley Crue?

How close do you monitor what your children listen to?

7 thoughts on “People Are Strange

  1. I was 9, or maybe 10, visiting the home of my older cousins. In the basement family room was a console stereo. “Hi Fi” and looking like the back of an church organ. On the turntable was a K-Tel record. For whatever reason I was alone at the moment so I turned it on and positioned the needle.

    Aw she’s a brick, house!
    She’s mighty, mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out

    My parent’s house was stocked with albums of classical and choir music. The closest thing we had to “rock” was an album of The Lettermen (Upper left one on this page: This brick house tune and sound from Lionel Richie and The Commodores was new and exciting, I didn’t even care what the lyrics meant!

    A few weeks later I bought a used cassette recorder from a friend and began taping songs off the radio by holding a transistor radio speaker to the built-in microphone.

    Years later my mom offered to move the family stereo into my room. I thought she was just being a generous mom. Looking back, I think she was just going crazy from my playing of Journey albums over and over again.

    Today music is a family thing at our house. Everyone has an iPod and the younger kids sync their music to my wife’s computer. We share and listen, discovering music and pointing new artists out to each other. Makes it easy to have conversations about any song, deciding together if one or another is inappropriate or just plain nasty.

    And, now that you mention it, I don’t think I have a single REO Speedwagon song in my collection. I’ll have to remedy that!


    1. Your K-Tel and Brick House mention made me laugh. How many times did we sing that out loud without having any idea what it was about? So funny.


  2. I’m convinced Pink Floyd got the title Dark Side of the Moon from Jim Morrison. Morrison at the Isle of Wight talked w/ interviewer John Tobler (Zig Zag Magazine) and in the course of the interview said something was the dark side of the moon.


  3. My kids listen from my collection, which is huge, about 45,000 songs ranging from mostly rock/pop to movie scores to classical. There’s always something popping up on the iPod that makes my kids ask, “Who’s that?”

    My first experience with The Doors was when I interviewed my middle school principal for the school newspaper. He was retiring, and when I asked him how he would be spending his retirement, he told me he would be very busy managing his late son-in-law’s estate. I found out later, from some other kids, that the son-in-law was Jim Morrison, and our principal, Corky Courson, had inherited all of Morrison’s property after his own daughter had died. This was 1977, when The Doors had a resurgence in popularity. I only started listening to them because of that interview, and was curious who they were that my principal had to leave his career in education because of them.

    Other than that, I was mostly a Beatles fan, and have passed that on to my kids. They can’t escape when we’re in the car and I’m blasting Let It Be or Strawberry Fields Forever.


    1. That’s at least twice the size of my collection. I think I’ll go listen to some Beatles now. Thanks for the reminder.


  4. I decided early on to not be judgmental about the music my kids listen to. I’ve encouraged them to share the music they like. It gives us something to talk about in the car and I think it has kept the lines of communication open for other topics too. Both of my kids recommend music they think I will like all the time. My musical tastes are pretty diverse so it works for me.


    1. I hope I remember your advice when my kids bring home something I may not like. My parents did the same and I learned to share my music with them when I knew they weren’t going to toss it in the fire.


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